|Rookie Battles in the East|
By Darryl Dobbs
Camps open up in 11 days and
hockey pooliesare very interested in the kids that will be in camp with a legitimate shot at a roster spot. This week and next, we’ll analyze the odds of a rookie cracking the lineup and what kind of impact we can expect to see in the campaign ahead.
Little is arguably the
best prospectin the system. He owns top playmaking skills and could potentially post a pile of points if he lines up with a sniper. Hey – doesn’t Ilya Kovalchuk need someone like that? If Little sticks, he will be one of the
top rookie scorersin the league.
On the blue line, there are two roster spots open. It says here that Karel Pilar will take one of them, however he has had his share of injuries so even being the first rearguard called up from the minors will still mean lots of game action in the NHL. Tobias Enstrom will likely take the other spot, although Marc Popovic and Nathan Oystrick will have something to say about that. All three have the ability to post 45 or 50 points in the NHL in seven or eight years, but Enstrom is the only one that could even take a run at 60. This season, however, do not expect anything spectacular from any of them.
On the point, Matt Lashoff should make the club full time and he’ll even see some time on the second power-play unit. A 25-point rookie season is a fair estimate.
free agency or trade.
Welch will make the team as a No. 4 or No. 5 defenseman and will see some power-play time on the second unit, but it is looking more and more like he will grow into a steady 30-point player, which is a little lower than he was projected a year ago. Larman is a third or fourth-line pivot who does not stand out in any statistical category to warrant
Up front, it would seem that Finnish sniper Janne Lahti has a spot waiting for him as a third-line winger. He will also be a member of the second power-play unit and certainly has the ability to debut with 40 points in the NHL. Kyle Chipchura, a potential captain of the team, also has a shot to crack roster on the fourth line, but will not be fantasy factor.
New Jersey Devils
On the blue line, Andy Greene will have plenty of opportunity to make an impact. The Devils lost Brian Rafalski and replaced him with Karel Rachunek – that’s quite the downgrade. Greene will log lots of time on the top power-play unit and you could see as much as 35 points out of him this year. He is one to watch.
New York Islanders
New York Rangers
dark horsecapability that could see as many as 55.
Defenseman Marc Staal is all but assured a spot. He is a defensive rearguard who will never be a big point producer, but brings so many other things to the team.
There is a spot open at center on the third line and Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov (who you can see playing right now in the Super Series) will do battle for it. If Dubinsky wins, expect 25 points and a lot of penalty minutes. If Anisimov wins, expect 30 or 35 points.
Up front, Nick Foligno is eyeing a spot as a third-line winger. The hardworking energy player will be a 50-point player one day, perhaps sooner than you would think. The team could also use a third-line center, which is where Josh Hennessey, Alexander Nikulin and Ilya Zubov come in. Since the Russians have been short on patience with the NHL lately, look for Hennessey to be the odd man out even though he may be the most qualified. Zubov brings all offense to the table, while Nikulin brings a two-way game. It is possible that both could make the team, but Zubov could really use one year in the AHL at the very least. Both Russians have signed with the team (but again – that seems to mean little when there is no NHL-Russia transfer agreement).
rookieslike they were candy. This time around, however, there is only one who will see NHL action this year: Steve Downie. He may not make the team out of training camp, but he will most assuredly receive a call up at some point. A skilled, agitating, hard-hitting winger with energy, Downie could one day post 65 or even 75 points. He’ll be a few years seeing numbers like that, so for now expect a point for every four games that he plays. His penalty minutes, however, will be through the roof.
Up front is of more interest though, for anyone who makes the team on the wing will immediately be dropped into the lottery box for the nightly draw over who gets to play with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Jonathan Filewich has the inside track on a spot, but don’t count out Ryan Stone. Whichever of the wingers make the team; they immediately become dark horses with a 20-point downside and a 60-point (or more) upside. Pay attention to that battle!
Angelo Esposito is almost certainly heading back to junior for one more year.
Tampa Bay Lightning
rookieof interest this year is Kari Ramo. The 21-year-old netminder will actually have a shot at the No.1 job, given the inconsistencies of Marc Denis and Johan Holmqvist last season. Ramo will be a wildcard in
fantasy hockeyin that he could play as many as 60 games this year…or as few as zero. You should have a pretty good idea of what he’ll do by the end of this month.
Toronto Maple Leafs
On the blue line, Anton Stralman, who was brought over from Sweden this summer, will get a long look in camp. There is a logjam in that position, but
Torontocould make a trade to free up some space if they feel that Stralman deserves it.
Right wing Francois Bouchard, brother of Minnesota’s Pierre-Marc, was dynamite in
rookie camp. Absolutely dynamite. He wasn’t expected to make the team for several years, but between that kind of camp – plus the fact that the team is in need of skilled wingers on the right side – and Bouchard could force things. Watch him, because if he makes the team it most assuredly will not be to shore up their penalty killing and checking units.
fantasy hockey tips/info, check out www.dobberhockey.com
|< Prev||Next >|